Opening address at the mobility of health professionals between the Philippines and selected EU member States: a policy dialogue

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the mobility of health professionals between the Philippines and selected EU member States: a policy dialogue, Makati City, Philippines, 23 July 2013

Statement | Makati City, Philippines | 23 July 2013
  • Deputy Administrator Casco of the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration
  • Congresswoman Paquiz of the party list Ang Nars,
  • Our partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Representatives of recruitment agencies, professional organizations and NGOs,
  • Members of the academe,
  • Colleagues from the ILO, WHO and IOM
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!

The ILO, with the support of the European Union is implementing the project “Promoting Decent Work across Borders”. The project seeks to better understand circular migration of health professionals to Europe.

This is done using the ILO tripartite structure, engaging governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations as well as professional organizations and recruitment agencies.

As such, your participation is crucial in order to prompt sound research and policy dialogues. It’s essential that the process ensure that recommendations on different dimensions of the migration process are discussed in an inclusive way for the benefit of all.

Let me begin by thanking you for your continued engagement, since the beginning of the project.

As many of you are aware, the Philippines is one of the top three countries sending nurses and health professionals abroad.

Labour migration occurs and persists because it offers substantial economic benefits to migrant workers and their families, as well as the countries of origin and destination.

The ILO is bringing stakeholders together to design means by which migration can take place in a safe and productive manner.

We support the President in his position that “migration should be an option and not a necessity”. This approach is part of the Philippine Development Plan and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan aimed at achieving sustainable and inclusive growth through decent and productive work.

The ILO and our social partners strongly believe that migrants are less vulnerable when they are moving out of choice, and not out of necessity.

The ILO established the earliest international standards on migration to ensure a fair deal for migrant workers and to maximize gains for both sending and receiving countries and stakeholders.

Un-managed migration of health professionals can lead to inequities and losses of health sector workforce.

It also impacts directly on the achievement of health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which relies upon national health care systems that require sufficient, qualified and competent health professionals having access to decent work.

In order to design the best policy response to these challenges, it’s critical to collect and to analyse data as well as to carryout research to be able to design efficient policy interventions for the benefit of all.

Circular migration has been promoted by some as a “triple win solution” to migration. This concept has been used by the EU itself as a possible solution to ethical migration.

As stated by some more critical segment of the migration stakeholders, “circular migration could be a way of filling gaps in the labour market without having to fully integrate those who wish to only come for a limited period of time, or on a seasonal basis”.

A more detailed analysis of the opportunities and challenges of circular migration are needed in order to reap its potential benefits, especially for health professionals.

At the heart of the Decent Work Across Borders’ is the goal to strengthen policy dialogue through the enhancement of existing knowledge base on circular migration. This is the reason why we are gathered here today.

Over the past few months, the Decent Work Across Borders team has been working with collaborators to look at different aspects of the migration of health care professionals migrating to Europe. This is an essential step from where we can now discuss, design and agree on how to move forward in the interests of all parties.

Let’s remember, as we go through the day, that we are here to learn from the policy research that the team has commissioned and, with your extensive experience of migration, to explore means to ensure safe and decent migration.

This is the first policy dialogue organized by the Decent Work Across Borders project. The team intends to bring the results of the research and seminar to a wider European audience in the coming months.

In addition, I’m sure you will further receive invitation to join the team to look at nursing education in the Philippines and to discuss ethical recruitment practices.

With your collaboration, the ILO will continue to endeavour to ensure safe and decent migration for all.

I will be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the organizations and people without whom this activity would not have been possible: the European Union, the Department of Labor and Employment and in particular the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and its attached agencies, the Commission on Higher Education, the Professional Regulation Commission, the Department of Health, the various employers and workers organizations in the health sector, the many professional organizations and recruitment agencies whose constant support to the DWAB team is essential and very appreciated.

I wish you all a fruitful day, full of insights and honest discussion.

Thank you and Mabuhay!